When the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer, it is time to celebrate the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. What better way than with an ode to summer sangria? Perhaps my bias is to drink this punch when plump blackberries and peaches are in season and the nights are long. The pitcher disappears before dinner is even served. Made in autumn, however, with apples and pears to serve with Spanish tapas such as QUESO DE CABRA with TOMATO & BASIL and STRAWBERRY TOMATO GAZPACHO, this fruit and brandy spiked wine punch is thrown back with toasts of "Salud!" between savory bites.
- In a large PITCHER, combine the fruit, brandy, triple sec, sugar if using, orange juice, and fruit of choice. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Add the wine and sliced lemon and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Fill tall glasses with ice, pour in sangria, top with sparkling water and a fruit garnish.
It is traditional to use lemons and limes in sangria, but citrus acidity interferes with the wine taste. The sweetness of the sangria will mellow with the added sparkling water and the final addition of one sliced lemon when the wine is added. No need to peel fruit before use--just slice, pit, and core if necessary. When it comes to Spanish brandy, the less expensive Fundador is acceptable if the cadillac Cardenal de Mendosa, Gran Duque Alba, or Lepanto break the spirits budget.